Tucked away in downtown Hilo, Hawaii, you might accidently find yourself at the front door of this quaint little cafe just steps away from the local farmers market. This is where I found myself about a week ago but I'd intentionally made my way there with a friend of mine and her daughter after hearing the place had such good reviews and was so hard to get reservations for (which made it even more appealing in a way). As the three of us walked to the front entrance, a tanned man wearing a lauhala papale (Hawaiian hat) crossed our path carrying what seemed to be a bag of fresh groceries from the nearby market. He greeted us good-naturedly and opened the door of the cafe for us and then introduced himself as Paul himself, owner, chef, and entertainer of the now-favorite little restaurant. He asks if we've ever been to his restaurant before, which we hadn't and he tells us "What took you so long?" Lol seriously, what took us so long to find this gem. One of Hilo's well-kept secrets for sure!
Inside was set three tables, one of which was already occupied by a couple. I liked the place instantly. The small open kitchen sat a few feet away from our table, above the kitchen a giant board with the delicious menu was set, a few vintage Hawaii-esque paintings hung, a giant bronze clock placed on the opposite wall, and notably a small sign high up on the wall that said "Never Trust A Skinny Cook", which was amusing as Paul was a pretty slender guy. I happily found out I had nothing to worry about this very excellent cook. I ordered the SS BLT, a combination of BLT sandwich including smoked salmon and pesto and a fresh side salad. My compadres ordered Belgian waffles and the Fish Bowl, which was a tasty herby pasta with sauteed fish. Paul started on the Belgian waffles first for the youngest of our troupe, and then worked his way to the sandwich and pasta. Let me just say that as quickly as this guy can cook, my mouth could not stop salivating at the delicious aroma that quickly filled the room.
Let's just say that when our food was placed on the table I could barely contain myself long enough to take a picture, but oh yes I did (; The SS BLT far exceeded expectations, everything was so delicious! I even ate the tomatoes, and I don't even like tomatoes!!! The sandwich was piled high with fresh ingredients and very good salmon and pesto. I feel like pesto is always a hit or miss and this one definitely got my good marks. The salad and the vinaigrette was just as tasty and I actually finished it before I got even halfway through my sandwich.
Paul even gave me a nice piece of sauteed Ahi to try, which was the fish used in the Fish Bowl. Such a nice guy, it was obvious being so hospitable and caring was so second nature for him. I was not disappointed in the least. The fish was tender, juicy and tasty, yummmmmm!
Oh my God! Just... Wow! That can pretty much sum up my trip back home to Hilo, Hawaii from January 1-7, 2017. I haven't been home in months because of the two jobs I presently have. Retail and hospitality usually have some strict blackout dates around the holidays, so I never got a chance to go on a mini vacation for quite some time. I needed that like I need air to breathe. I'm starting to recognize that my life rolls so much smoother, synchronistic and just overall more enjoyable when I am not constantly stressed by being on time, having to be somewhere, having to hold a certain disposition that doesn't match my current mood, having to be constantly in a state of anxiety, stress, rushing frenzy or amusingly, boredom. That's what my life was like for the better part of 2016 but I am happy to say that won't be my life any longer.
Returning home on the 1st of the year was the best possible decision I could have made, mentally, emotionally, physically, and divinely, rejuvenating and revitalizing. I feel energized, focused, and most importantly excited and passionate! Two things I haven't felt in a long time and realized are so key to a fulfilling life. Excitement and passion which is a form of JOY, had been sorely missing and I knew that, but I was stuck on what I needed to change or bring in to my life that would heal those parts of me that felt exhausted, unhappy, uncommitted. And so, let me tell you more about my Hilo trip.
I had worked on New Year's Eve on the dinner cruise and caught the early morning flight in to Hilo on Hawaii island, better known as the Big Island. As soon as I stepped foot into the open air terminal my senses completely relaxed as a soft, gentle rain fell on that gray morning and a comforting hush surrounded me. I was home. Dad picked me up and we went to one of our usual breakfast stops iHop, and I enjoyed some father-daughter conversation as I sipped my toasted marshmallow hot chocolate. Probably the first day in months where I could start the morning without having to immediately get ready to go to work or without an itinerary or schedule. I could already feel myself slipping back into that small town lifestyle I've been missing. Upon arrival at home though, I frantically dropped my bags at the door and searched for a snack for the large, loving, ever-exciteable dog that awaited me in my backyard. My two year old dog Mana, a Malamute/Shepherd mix and my best friend, looked confused as I opened the back door. After calling his name however, the craziness exploded as he barked and whined and jumped around excitedly waiting for me to get within his reach so he could jump on me and give me those wet kisses lol. My heart was just as excited as his, my big handsome boy so full of unconditional love, joy, and non-judgement. I missed you Mana. The perfect start to a much-needed vacation and I was loving every moment.
Later I reconnected with a dear friend Felicia, and we spent the rest of the night catching each other up on the past few months of our lives. I told her about my current jobs and we got on the subject of owning a business. Hey didn't you study fashion design? Well yes, I had. You can do that!
I've been wanting to start my own business for some time now but I never quite got motivated or inspired enough to really start doing something about it. My entire perspective changed on this trip. She showed me a local girl on social media who had created a brand and started selling some of her designs and was doing pretty well for herself. I became completely inspired by how unexpectedly this start-up business had become successful and I really felt glad for their good fortune. What I admired most wasn't that her new business was doing well, but rather that she seemed so happy. You can tell that she is truly living the life she wants to live and embodying the person she wants to be and that kind of fulfillment one feels from living your life as you desire and with purpose is something I find very respectable and so appealing. To not deny yourself anything and to be authentic and open in all you do and to not waste any more time! This I think was the little switch that turned my inspiration on and really ignited my passion. That night after returning home I feverishly wrote down and drew out idea after idea as I received image after image download of divine inspiration. The following day in about thirty or so minutes time I wrote down even more. You don't realize how much a hectic daily schedule really takes a toll on you until you no longer have one. It's like as soon as my brain could take a breather, all these ideas that seemed out of reach just came flooding in. After about 5 days of brainstorming and imagination, I had pages of silhouette designs, written down color combinations, thought of names and key elements of my first and a few future collections, had a basic website design in mind, decided on not one but two separate businesses, as well as come to a final decision on the name of my apparel business. "Kawehi" was my final choice. I originally did not want to name my brand after myself, but found it to be a very fitting name for a modern take on beautiful aloha wear as the Hawaiian word Kawehi means "adornment". My brand name is also a nod to my great-grandmother Kawehi, also known as "Kawehe", who I am named after, and who was a well-known healer in her time using traditional la`au lapa`au (Hawaiian medicinal plants). So this brand is also a tribute to her but stands well on its own to mean everything a well-placed adornment does to frame your inner and outer beauty. I had thought about doing aloha wear a few times before after seeing designs that I thought oh well that's a nice color but I'm not crazy about the print or wow that's a nice print but the silhouette is so unflattering... my dilemmas as I shopped for aloha wear usually for occasions such as the Merrie Monarch festival or casual and formal festivities of any kind. I decided to solve the problem of young, stylish Hawaii locals who can't seem to find that right dress or top that they can genuinely say omg that's sooo cute!, as well as be the cultural reflection of Polynesia that is found in aloha wear attire, but which generally tends to look a little more dated depending on the silhouette and print. My passion has revealed itself in full creative ferocity and I am beyond excited to start working even more on building my brand and finally launching my business this year. My first collection will debut Fall/Winter of 2017 Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!! So wish me luck and look out for it in the coming months! I will be posting updates of this new endeavor and I hope you'll find my new passion just as energizing as I do right now! As for my second business idea which I'll keep a secret for now hehe, I will be posting updates as well but my launch date most likely will be after Kawehi.
This year is already proving itself to be one of tremendous growth and fulfillment and I strongly believe that for everyone out there that this moment right now, right now as you're reading this, is the moment to actualize all you've ever wanted for yourself. Why wait any longer when you can say yes to your bliss and really live it. Because based on what has happened to me in the last week or so, once you make the choice to live the way you want to live, express yourself as all you are and really decide to not settle for anything less than your happiness, you will notice that once you send that intention out into the Universe, things quickly and easily start falling into place and showing up for you. This I know is true.
I Am Kawehi. 27 years of life on this earth, steadily growing, rising and blossoming like a lotus birthing through the mud, upwards into crystal waters and then to rest atop in open air as the firey sun alights my form. I wander. I imagine. I expand and seek to understand. I see. I AM.